In my eyes there is nothing more satisfying than hitting a perfectly crisp pitch shot that finishes close to the pin. The likes of Ian Poulter and Jason Day top the PGA tour stats for strokes gained in and around the greens, but what can we learn from their technique ??? The answer lies not in technique as they both do things a little different, I believe its in their understanding and awareness of distance control. Both have a system that all amateurs can learn from and it comes from the way they practice. Now we arent as lucky as the tour players and have practice areas in our back garden, so how can we practice like them at our own course or maybe in our garden's if they are big enough!!
The Clock face System - Both players in question have a similar system to the clock face which helps them feel different length of swings equating to different carry distances in their short game. They use these systems all over the world playing on all different types of golf courses.
In the below picture (from left to right) James is swinging the club at 3 positions in his backswing that allows him to hit the same club 3 different distances 10 yards apart. As you can see his lead arm (left arm) points at the different clock face positions at 8 o'clock, 9 o'clock and 10 o'clock.
In the picture James is using his 60 degree wedge. These different positions allow him to flight and carry the ball to 10 yards with his 8 o'clock swing, 20 yards with his 9 o'clock swing and 30 yards with his 10 o'clock swing. Technically James relies on a sound set up and good tempo in his swing, allowing the club to generate its own speed in the downswing. This system gives him a clear understanding of what positions in his swing produce to the differing distances. He works to these 3 main positions in his backswing and changes the club depending on what flight and roll he wants out of the shot.
So how do we practice like the pro's ?? Its easy all you need is some cones, your wedges and some decent practice balls!
Equipment needed - 5 x cones, 25 x balls you normally play with out on the course, all your wedges.
* Place the 5 cones in a straight line 10 yards apart, mark out a hitting area 10 yards away from your first cone.
* Using the clock face system pitch your first 5 balls to the 10 yard cone experimenting on different length of swings and clubs to get the desired result. Repeat until your comfortable with the length of swing and club selection. Remember your are looking for the ball to carry to the cone not roll too it. We work to carry distances for all our clubs when working on yardages.
* Now move onto the 20 yard cone and repeat the process until your comfortable with the length of swing and outcome.
* Repeat the process until you reach and finish the 50 yard cone. Make notes along the way recording swing length and clubs used for each distance.
* IMPORTANT - please remember although not searching for perfection please try to make sure that your backswing and through swing lengths match up. 8 o'clock to 4 o'clock and 9 o'clock to 3 o'clock etc.
Here are James's wedge positions for each distance -
10 yard - 8 o'clock 60 degree (LW)
20 yard - 9 o'clock 60 degree (LW)
30 yard - 10 o'clock 60 degree (LW)
40 yard - 9 o'clock 56 degree (SW)
50 yard - 10 o'clock 56 degree (SW)
Once you have completed this for the first time practice your system with the cones marked out at each distance. James also likes to hit shots with different trajectories by simply using different lofted wedges, the yardages above are his higher trajectory shots. His standard and lower flighted shots to these distance comprise of lower lofted clubs like his 52 (GW) and 46 (PW) degree wedges.
* Please note if your not a fan of the clock face idea, simply relate it to knee, hip and shoulder high in your backswing, these tend to get similar results. Also if you feel that the 3 positions are too much then just use two positions or even just the one *
This is a great system and practice model to follow when your trying to dial in those wedges, always record your findings and make them into a chart that stays in your golf bag at all times. You will find this will give you so much confidence when out on the course standing at these distances, we all now how we play when we have confidence over a shot!!
Any questions about the above please comment on the link below and i will be sure to get back to you!!